Grace: The One and Only

You know, there are great advantages to living so close to Atlanta, Ga.
One is that it’s the home of Chick-Fil-A and Waffle House. Top that.
Another is that Hartsfield airport is one of the major hubs of air travel.
Third, we’re close to the Atlanta gift mart. (Major plus when you’re in retail.)
And lastly, we have the opportunity to go to regular worship with the likes of Louie Giglio and Chris Tomlin. ….Awesome!
Two weeks ago, I mentioned having gone to Passion City Church for the first time. It’s Louie Giglio, from Northpoint Community Church, heading up a new church for the greater Atlanta area. And the last time we checked it out, it was a message on grace being the power of Christ in us. Very powerful.
Well, I was excited to get to attend again this week for a continued message on grace: “Grace: The One and Only”.
Louie said, that in response to his previous messages on grace, he’s usually confronted with four common concerns:
  1. It all sounds too easy.
  2. Isn’t grace just permission to keep sinning?
  3. Shouldn’t I be doing something??
  4. I tried. It didn’t work.
Last night was his effort to address these concerns.
First concern: “It all sounds too easy.”
Louie refers us to Philippians 2:5-8. “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
It may sound all too easy. But, it certainly wasn’t easy when he was crushed, broken and pierced, paying the price, all alone,  for our transgressions.
And as for our part… it may be easier said than done. When’s the last time you tried to humble yourself to complete obedience and die to self?
Moving right along….
Second concern: “Isn’t grace just permission to keep sinning?”
You know, sometimes I just love how the human mind works. Always looking for loopholes. Dressed up in the appearance of justification. And I love how God calls us out on it. In this instance, through Paul, in his letter to the Romans.
Paul responds to those who may have had a somewhat distorted view of God’s grace, arguing that since grace would be more abundant where sin was greater, they should just go on sinning in order to experience more grace. …. You know, just to help God out and give Him all the more glory. (I love it.)
In Chapter 6 (verse 2), Paul says “May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?!”  Louie says that the Greek equivalent to “May it never be” or “By no means” or the likes is our ” ****  no!”  (So, needless to say, Paul was rather emphatic on this point.)
Paul reiterates in 15-18: “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! (Yikes! Here it is again!) Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.”
We are all enslaved to something. Either to Him or to our sinful earthly nature.
To this point, Louie reminds us that true grace develops a desire to be more like Christ. The key is freedom. If the desire is not there to become more holy (set apart for God), you have not yet experienced true grace. It’s not until you feel the weight of the sins that He bore for you, that you have entered the grace that He is offering you. True grace propels you toward obedience. True grace births a hunger for His holiness.
Third concern: “Shouldn’t I be doing something??”
To address this concern, Louie directs us to 1 Corinthians 15:9-10:  “For I am the least of all the apostles. In fact, I’m not even worthy to be called an apostle after the way I persecuted God’s church. But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace.”
This goes back to the whole Christ working through me message.
Louie states that “Grace fuels furious work” but quickly reminds us that it is “with a whole new motive.”
We begin to act purposefully in grace not SO THAT we (fill in the blank) but rather BECAUSE we (fill in the blank). For example, we live out our lives in a manner of grace BECAUSE we are children of God, not SO THAT we will be a child a God. And so on and so forth…
His grace is already extended. We don’t have to earn it. We never could, even if we tried. Which brings us to the last concern.
Fourth concern: “I tried. It didn’t work.”
This one kind of hits back on the previous message, too, of Christ at work through me. And the whole idea of rededication. But, this time Louie points us back to Philippians 2:1-4:  If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any tenderness and mercies, make my joy complete, being likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord and of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem the other better than himself. Look not every man to his own things, but every man also to the things of others.”
In other words, Louie says “Don’t work FOR your salvation… work it OUT.” This begins with a humble spirit… with grace and with others.
“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” (Phil. 2:13) 
God works in us, to will and do (aka: the want-to and the know-how) accordingly. But, sometimes, Louie realizes, we even need a want-to to want to. And sometimes we don’t even want THAT want-to. But, he says “That’s alright. Even without a want-to, God’s grace is still there for us. Grace is about the next step, no matter where you are on the journey.”
God is extending His grace to you.
It’s up to you to believe it and receive it and see what it will do in your life.
Published in: on November 23, 2009 at 7:46 pm  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Why would I ever need to go when you take such thoughtful, meticulous notes? Thanks, “Cliff.”

  2. Yeah, well it helped that I took a notebook this time. Last time, all I had was the back of an envelope to scribble on.
    Good stuff!!

  3. […] And, for the video on the series end “Grace: The One and Only” …. […]

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